I have always struggled under the pressure of perfection. Most often it is a pressure that I put on myself: to look a certain way, have a perfect marriage, a successful career, a perfectly curated Instagram feed, and so on. For nearly as long as I can remember, I would put so much effort into maintaining the perception that things were great, life was awesome and that I had it all together. Newsflash: I didn’t.
I cared so much about my reputation and making sure I was well-liked that I was living for the affirmation of others. I thought that admitting my struggles or not meeting expectations was a form of weakness and I was not about to have anyone think that I was weak or couldn’t handle what was thrown my way. I kept this front going for as long as I could and it wasn’t until I reached the end of myself and was in a place of brokenness and despair that I began to see where things had gone wrong. Ask my husband, Shaun, these were dark times in our 2.5 year marriage ;)
Without realizing it, I carried this pressure of perfection into my relationship with God and from there into my relationship with others. I loved God, was passionate about furthering His kingdom on Earth and recognized my need for Him, but I didn’t invite Him into the hidden places of my heart that needed healing. And what became apparent was that my inability to be vulnerable with people was directly connected to lack of confidence in my identity. On some level, I felt like I needed to show, earn and prove myself in order to be worthy of God’s love and even though I knew that God’s love was not dependant on my behavior (see Romans 5:1-11) - I didn’t have a personal revelation of that truth.
In its purest form, the desire to appear perfect is actually pride. Yikes - that revelation stung! I mean, I hadn’t really considered myself a prideful person, but the desire to control the narrative and portray a flawless image is pride in its truest sense. I didn’t want to be open in my areas of insecurity, admit the struggles I was facing, or ask for help - I wanted to prove that I could handle it all on my own and “save myself” if you will. This is pride, my friend. And it is not how God designed us to be. In fact, it’s the whole reason that Jesus came to Earth and died for you and I - because we cannot save ourselves and as hard as we might try, we will never be good enough or worthy to be in relationship with God. My pride was rooted in the simple fact that while I knew I was a child of God, I hadn’t embraced it as truth and let it permeate into every area of my life - I still held onto this pursuit of perfection.
Maybe you can relate to me. Maybe you’ve felt out of your depth, trying to keep it all together and have experienced those moments of despair and hopelessness. This journey toward vulnerability has been ongoing, but here are three things I’ve learned along the way:
Turn up God’s voice.
For me, this means that I need to be super aware of the voices that I’m listening to. There are so many thoughts that run wild in my mind and to be very honest, even as I sit here and write this blog, I find myself second guessing myself and thinking things like: do I even have anything to say that’s worth reading? Do people actually care? Maybe Travis & Kyra made a mistake in asking me to contribute to their blog..These thoughts are not from God - I know that, and yet they still run through my mind. In these challenging moments, what has helped is to remember what God says about me: that I’m made in His image (Gen 1:27), and He chose me when He planned creation (Eph 1:11-12); that He is not distant and angry but is the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16), and it's His desire to lavish His love on me simply because I am His child and He is my Father (1 John 3:1). When I’m reminded of my identity in Christ, I stop myself from worrying about what others might say or think and can boldly walk in who God has called me to be.
Find your people.
Having people you can be vulnerable with is crucial. This is one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in this journey. Being in real relationship with others is actually how God made us, it’s in our nature and is the way in which we were designed to operate. The key here though is to find the right people. Get around people who are wise, people you want to be like, people who will stand by you in the dark times - but won’t leave you there, people who will encourage you and draw out the good in you, people who will love you regardless of your performance. Those are the people that are worth being vulnerable with.
When I was going through the thick of it, it was important for me to stop myself from being consumed with what others might say and be faithful to what God said. I needed to listen to the Holy Spirit and understand myself well enough to realize that being on Instagram at the time wasn’t healthy for me because it would lead my down a path to comparison, that my marriage needed to be prioritized over my career, that I didn’t need to fear disappointing people because I was obeying God. As I began making decisions that aligned with these realizations, I could see that having boundaries wasn’t a limitation, but a form of protection.
While these three tools are so simple, they have made such a difference for me and have really opened doors for me to thrive and live fully in what God had always destined for me. I heard someone say once that “God can’t bless who you pretend to be” and I’ve found that so true in my life. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always get it right, but I aim to live each day God-conscious instead of self-conscious - fully confident in who God made me to be, leaning into grace, choosing to be vulnerable with those around me and making room for God to use my story for His glory.
Let’s be those who choose vulnerability over perfection!